CT commutations paused; Sens. Kelly, Somers applaud decision

April 20, 2023

For Immediate Release

Senate Republican Leaders Applaud Decision to Pause Commutations

“We continue to stand with victims.”

Connecticut Senate Republican leaders are applauding the news (attached) that the Connecticut Board of Pardons and Paroles has indefinitely suspended commutation, the process which has been shaving multiple decades off of murderers’ prison sentences.

“This is a positive step,” said Senate Republican Leader Kevin Kelly (R-Stratford). “The people deserve a government that works for them – a government that makes sure life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is protected. They deserve accountability. It took press conferences for us to get the word out that in this situation, the people of Connecticut’s voices were not being heard. Under the direction of an unelected bureaucrat, commutations went from one or two a year to over 90 a year. Decades and decades were shaved off of 44 murderers’ sentences. Our side of the aisle was not consulted about the new policy. The governor was not informed, either. When the governor called for a pause to make sure victims’ voices were at the table, the board continued to issue commutations.

“Everyone must have a voice at the table,” Sen. Kelly continued. “That’s the hallmark of American Democracy. Justice is achieved through conversation, collaboration and listening. When there is silence, there can be no justice. Under the current commutations policy, victims’ voices have been silenced. Therefore, it makes sense to pause them and study this controversial policy in order to see whether it is achieving its desired goals. Senate Republicans continue to stand with the victims. We look forward to productive conversations involving the board’s new Chairperson Jennifer M. Zaccagnini and key stakeholders in the days and weeks ahead.”

“National Crime Victims’ Week starts on Sunday,” said Sen. Heather Somers (R-Groton). “We continue to push for an open and transparent process where every victim, lawmaker, prosecutor and defense attorney has input on how this commutations policy should be revised. We need to decide collectively what that policy is — what is fair, what is just, and what is right. Through engagement and through dialogue, we can make survivors’ voices heard and effect positive change. We thank the governor for listening and taking action. We were not made aware of this change in policy, but today we are optimistic that this pause will result in the change victims have been asking for. We are pleased that Gov. Lamont recognizes that this is not a political issue but rather one of grave importance for all citizens and victims in Connecticut.”